[Lingtyp] additive markers and indicative markers

Daniel Ross djross3 at gmail.com
Wed Mar 17 16:46:09 UTC 2021

Dear Chenlei,

This sounds similar to the topic of "interpretable" vs. "uninterpretable"
features in the Generative literature, for example distinguishing between
pronouns (your "additive") and agreement markers (your "indicative").
Although this topic has been discussed extensively in that literature (and
it makes sense from a derivational perspective where the theorist must
decide whether to interpret new information from a morpheme, or just
"check" it as matching existing information), I agree with you that this
sounds like it would be difficult to do consistently from a typological,
descriptive perspective. On that same topic, for example, there are a
number of languages where bound forms function like "pronouns". On the
other hand, this does sound like a relevant question to ask, specifically
to what extent the distinction can be maintained and if it is helpful in a
particular typology. I think the problem may be more in identifying which
is the "primary" marker for a certain feature, as opposed to the other
merely agreeing/reinforcing it. This is the same problem with studies of
multi-functional forms, where there is sometimes an intuition that one
function is primary and the others secondary, but it is difficult to find
clear, objective reasons for prioritizing one over the other. (You
prioritized "six" over the plural marker -s because "six" is more specific,
but I don't know that it would always work out that easily, nor that we
want to assume that a more specific, presumably more grammaticalized form,
is inherently less important, although I suppose from a diachronic
perspective, e.g. language change due to intense contact as in
creolization, it is those more grammaticalized markers that are often lost,
so maybe there is some sort of hierarchical way to set up this kind of
typology. I believe studies have previously looked at the "salience" of
individual morphemes, e.g. the relatively little functional weight of
English 3SG -s, as one explanation for why it is often omitted by L2

Daniel Ross
ALT Webmaster

On Wed, Mar 17, 2021 at 8:48 AM 周晨磊 <zhouchenlei at 126.com> wrote:

> Dear all,
> As you know, a grammatical marker is considered to mark some syntactic/
> semantic information, e.g., an aspect marker marks the aspectual
> information and a case marker is used to mark the relation between the
> marked noun and the verb or another noun. This understanding of marker is
> well accepted. But thinking further, we see that there may be two different
> types of markers, which we would like to term the "additive marker" and
> "indicative marker".
> Additive markers are consistent with our general understanding of
> "markers". That is, the marker adds some information that is lack in the
> original context. For example, the *-ed* in English adds the past tense
> information to the verb. Indicative markers, to the best of my knowledge,
> however, are not fully recognized in the literature. An indicative marker
> is the marker that indicates the information that already exists in the
> original context.  For example, the Chinese passive marker *bei* in *shui
> bei wo he le* water PASS I drink pfv 'The water was drank by me' could be
> treated as an indicative marker in this specific context because the
> passive relation between "water" and "drink" already exists even without
> the aid of *bei*.  In this situation, *bei* is used to indicate the
> existed passive relation.
> Our preliminary study shows that there is no clear boundary between
> additive markers  and indicative markers, and the two can be transformed in
> certain contexts. For example, English plural marker *-s* can be either
> additive or indicative. In "the teachers came in" (vs. "the teacher came
> in" ), *-s* is additive; but in "six teachers", since the plural meaning
> has already existed in the numeral "six", *-s* is indicative.
> I was wondering if you think it makes sense to distinguish these two types
> of markers in typological study and if you are aware of any research that
> has explored this issue.
> Thank you very much in advance.
> Best wishes,
> --
> Zhou, Chenlei
> Dept. of Syntax & Semantics,
> Institute of Linguistics,
> Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
> #5 Jianguomennei Street, Beijing, 100732, P.R.China
> _______________________________________________
> Lingtyp mailing list
> Lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org
> http://listserv.linguistlist.org/mailman/listinfo/lingtyp
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